Ignore Ignorance

This world is a funny place…

Archive for the ‘misc.’ Category

Haters Gonna Hate

Posted by Brandon McKoy on April 22, 2010


I’m pretty late to the party in this regard, but Roger Ebert’s article discussing why he thinks “video games can never be art” really perturbed me. Ebert is someone whose work I admire a great deal. His influence upon the movie industry is indescribable and (as far as I can tell by his tweets and posts) he is a respectably intelligent and open individual. Considering all of this, it was with great surprise that I read his comments about video games not only not being art, but that they will never reach that distinction. How does one even make such a statement that is so inherently dissonant? As Gabe from Penny-Arcade puts it, “Of course video games are art. They are nothing but art. They are art piled on top of more art.” His partner in crime Tycho remarks, “…there’s nothing here to discuss. You can if you want to, and people certainly do, but there’s no profit in it. …do we win something if we defeat him?” (the daily comic is pure gold, as usual) No, there is nothing to win here, it is a waste of time to argue against such a frivolous stance. There is more to this though than just a discussion of what does and does not constitute art.

Ebert makes his point without having any significant interaction with video games. No, there is no where in his rant where he proclaims wholly virginity in the realm of video game experience, but I do believe it’s safe to assume he’s never stabbed a Covenant soldier with a Spartan Sword or directed Link to fire an arrow while riding horseback through an endless field of grain. Sure, I may be wrong, but his opinions lead me to believe otherwise. Would Mr. Ebert appreciate it if I were to cast a negative opinion on all of cinema after viewing Glitter, but never venturing to experience Casablanca, North by Northwest, or The Big Lebowski? It would be grossly irresponsible to do so, yet that is exactly what Ebert has done in offering up such an incendiary proclamation in service of delegitimizing video game artistry. It is disturbing when a widely respected critic (an oxymoron if I’ve ever heard one) sees no error in lecturing on a public soapbox with a foundation composed of quicksand.

It is impossible to define the subjective. Art, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. No matter what Mr. Ebert says, he cannot take away the dearth of enjoyable experiences that video games have provided me. Through and through there are games which have inspired me simply through their artistic representation, narrative, execution, and realism. Video games transmit and reflect ideas, emotions and values, to me that is the ultimate form and purpose of art. I read an article once on Manny Ramirez, the famous slugger now of the Los Angeles Dodgers. The journalist of the article was interviewing one of Ramirez’s teammates as he watched Manny take batting practice. “He never hit a ball above the outfield fence. Not one. Every ball he hit was on a line. Honestly, it was like watching Picasso paint. It was like a work of art.” Who is anyone to tell him otherwise?
Now playing: 近藤浩治 – The Legend of Zelda
via FoxyTunes



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Through the Looking Glass

Posted by Brandon McKoy on July 10, 2008

Hello, hello. First update in 2 weeks as last week was the July 4th weekend and I was all over the place without a chance to sit down and write something decent. I still can’t believe it’s already July…

Anyways, I was without a phone for a few days this week and boy did I feel the pain. No texting, instant messaging, sending e-mails, checking scores, reading news articles, looking up answers to trivia questions, or browsing Digg images…for a whole 48 hours! Crazy right?

I’m just kidding of course, but that’s the general sentiment isn’t it? When people forget their phone at home or break it and are without it, they act as if they’ve lost a part of themselves for the day. For some reason it’s just so damn difficult for people to get through the day without a cell phone. Sure, you feel like you’re not connected to anyone or anything and lost without a map, but I don’t think that’s the culprit here. People have become so used to texting, AIM, and other communication technologies that society as a whole is losing the face-to-face communication skills that are necessary; the root word in communication is community, and we’re losing out on our last opportunity to create one.

With all of this neo-communication going on (including viral advertising), life just doesn’t seem real anymore. Even the part that was real before, the part we could control, is slowly becoming a facade. I can’t find the article right now (I’ll continue searching and post it when I do), but I remember reading about a company advertising it’s camera by hiring people to walk up to tourists and others, offer to take a picture of them, and after doing so, strike up a conversation about the camera. By doing this, the company had ensured themselves direct access to consumers, as well as their full attention on the product they were peddling. I seem to remember the article also stating that people were then offered the camera for what would be pitched as a cheap price, but the actual retail value; some people would buy the camera on the spot, but even for those who didn’t, they had just been greatly informed and influenced to buy a particular product. I don’t know about you, but that’s creepy as hell to me. Now when people walk up to me, I have to have it in the back of my mind that they might be a plant by a company to try to get me to do (most likely purchase) something? WTF.

Things like this have now made it so that face-to-face communication can’t be trusted. I used to think that as long as I wasn’t a spy for the CIA, I could pretty much trust that the people I interacted with had genuine intentions; good and bad they may be, but still genuine. Advertising like this is not genuine, its fake and casts a cloud over the reliability of human interaction. I knew I texted for a reason! I can choose who I want to message and control who reads my thoughts and influences me….I think….?

Note: I made it so that I could moderate comments (I don’t want this to turn into a Digg comment page…ugh) and after applying the option, it deleted all of the comments that were already there. I dunno, but I tested it and I think it’s working now.

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Castle in the Sky

Posted by Brandon McKoy on June 26, 2008

A few nights ago I was watching Jurassic Park, and was struck by the many similarities between the lessons in the movie, and the lessons we learn from urban and suburban planning. In Jurassic Park, scientists built a beautiful park with all of the precautions and amenities they could think of. One of the repeating lines in the movie is, “spared no expense.” Yet, in the end, even with all of their fanciful designs and plans, nature found a way to do what it wanted and the dinosaurs on the island took over. Well, the same goes for residential planning; no matter how nice you make the buildings or the parks, there will still be crime, drugs, and all of the social problems that come with society. Physical environment is no where near as important as mental environment. As long as people fear one another and flee rather than invest in their community, the same problems will continue to plague society. Pretty looking buildings, as amazing as they are, don’t do shit to help ease these problems.

Speaking of pretty buildings, there was a recent announcement that developers are planning to build a skyscraper in Dubai, where each floor can spin (yep, spin) independently to change the view. The BBC has a nice report here on the event. This incredible building will have 80 floors (all but the ground floor can spin), with a computer controlling each floor’s rotation, contorting the building into very interesting shapes and designs. Owners of penthouse suites will have the ability to control their floor’s rotation, so that they can change the view if (and when) they tire of it. In a nutshell, this building is off the hook; too bad it doesn’t serve a real purpose. Yes, the building is energy self-sufficient from wind turbines which power the rotation of the floors. But this building isn’t being used for some public purpose; it’s just more incredibly expensive housing ($3.7 million – $36 million for an apartment), and is taking a large amount of money to construct (~ $700 millon) considering it’s only 79 apartments. Is it cool? Yes. Is it necessary? Hell no.

The development of Dubai is very interesting. Most metropoleis have been built over hundreds of years, slowly growing in architecture and population. Dubai however, has gone from basically a desert town to a thriving metropolis in a mere 14 years. Its population has tripled in 20 years from 370,800 in 1985 to 1,204,000 in 2005. I say all of this to illustrate that it is no surprise that such a building would be constructed in Dubai. However, my concern is that similar extravagant projects (though they may not have spinning floors) are being planned in many cities around the world, including American cities.

Wouldn’t it make more sense to use all of this money to create buildings and structures that can serve a real purpose, rather than throw it all away on beauty and aesthetics? The Chrysler building in New York, though not particularly unique, is a staple of the city’s landscape and houses many businesses and ventures which breath life into the city. Instead of trying to make everything look beautiful, cities need structures of substance. You may not agree with me here, but I’d rather that cities use such money on parks, corner stores, and maintenance, instead of building these extravagant monstrosities. A city can look as beautiful as it wants, but if there is no substance behind it, it’s not going to operate in an effective way.

So, in a way, Jurassic Park taught me everything I need to know about Urban Development. It shows that environment doesn’t breed success, and ultimately nature will find a way. Just like Urban development, the public has to have the right mindset to go with the right environment, otherwise they will resort back to their natural behaviors which continue to result in the things that plague our society (fear, drugs, crime, etc.). It is why people flee to the suburbs, and why Donald Trump sits atop his personally named tower – they would rather get away from the problems than to stay and fix them. Hiding behind gated communities and inside 80 story skyscrapers will not advance this society one lick. If people are provided with places to foster community and relationships (parks, pedestrian friendly neighborhoods, etc.) instead of places to escape and segregate themselves, we will all be better off. Everybody seems to want their own little castle in the sky; it is only on the ground, amongst the people where true community and happiness lie.

Listening to: No Doubt – The Climb


Note: For everyone who continues to visit this blog I greatly appreciate it. I’m going to make Thursday updates a regularity so that there’s some consistency here. Also, please comment so I know what your thoughts are; whether you agree or disagree. I’m going to start posting polls and the like so stay tuned. Thanks again – B

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Judgment Day: One Hell of a Party

Posted by Brandon McKoy on June 19, 2008

I’m not sure just how many of you are familiar with the Terminator movie series, but a big company named Cyberdyne is taken over by robots too smart for humans, and said robots eventually destroy the world in a nuclear holocaust that would make Hitler shake in his boots. I was pretty sure that this scenario (however possible it may be) was pure fiction…until today. Familiarize yourself with the real-life Cyberdyne Inc. Not only is this company serendipitously named, but it’s flagship product is the HAL Robo Suit. Hmm…H.A.L…where have I heard that before? Wait a minute! Are you telling me that this Japan-based technology company has not only adopted the same name of the company in Terminator that eventually destroys the world, but it has also named it’s premier product after the infamous robot that went insane and tried to kill the entire space crew in 2001: A Space Odyssey? …Is this a joke? Are the Japanese trying to make Americans paranoid to the point of anarchy? Am I living in The Matrix?

Well, Cyberdyne is a real company, and the HAL Robot Suit is a real product. Both were originally fictional entities with a knack for destroying humans in an incredibly efficient manner. So what are we to make of this “coincidence?” Will the Japanese destroy all human-kind….probably. I mean, someone’s gotta do it. With the way things are looking (humans becoming increasingly alienated from themselves and each other, technology getting stronger and faster at a linear rate), we humans aren’t going to be dominant for very much longer. No one knows the limits to our technology, and for all we know Steve Jobs could be both the Key Master AND Gate Keeper of Judgement Day if he keeps making these smart-as-hell phones (can’t wait ’til the day my phone makes me breakfast in bed). Yes, technology is a great thing. It enables us to eradicate disease, globalize our economy, and reach past our own world into the stars. But, I ask you, do we really need the ability to watch “So You Think You Can Dance?” while updating the new Twitter account we just got with geographically tagged posts and pictures of our latest vacation to CERN, all while on the go?

I’ve quietly resigned myself to the fact that I will either die from the muzzle of a Transformer robot, or the flames of a super-comet/asteroid…if I’m lucky. I mean, it just seems inevitable, to me at least. With all of the various possible resources for our impending destruction, it should at least be interesting. As for me, I’m just gonna kick back, light one, and watch the show; cause it’s gonna be one hell of a party.

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NIMBY = Not In My Backyard

Posted by Brandon McKoy on June 12, 2008

So I’m taking this summer course titled “Cities, Suburbs, & Community” which (2 weeks in) has been quite interesting. It’s basically an urban planning course that talks about how modern architecture and zoning policies do not foster community, but stifle it. In order for a community to prosper, the residents of that community must invest themselves in it, otherwise there will be no real progress; which brings me to…the Toyota Camry Hybrid (da da!).

Everyone knows the ridiculous gas situation we have right now (if you don’t, you have issues), and as I’m in the market for a new vehicle the Camry Hybrid fits my needs perfectly. I can save gas, help the environment, and ride in style all at the same time; a no-brainer right? Well…that depends. I’m splitting the cost of the car with my parents, so of course they are going to have a significant amount of say in what car I end up getting. Here’s the conversation I had with my father:

Me: So what do you think? Looks to be a good deal.
Dad: Well, I see that the Hybrid is $6,000 more than the base model.
Me: Yea, but the point is to get a Hybrid. It’ll be best for the long run.
Dad: Well, how long would it take the Hybrid to pay off that extra $6,000?
Me: I don’t know, but that’s really not what matters here.
Dad: Yes it does. We have to get the cheapest deal possible.
Me: At what expense?
Dad: Whatever is necessary for me to save money.

So the environment is supposed to take another one for the team, all so that we can save some cash (which would undoubtedly be spent on something less important). This is a man who participated in sit-ins during the Civil Rights movement, marched on DC for the Million Man March, and was the only African-American on his company’s board of directors; he knows what it takes to create change. However, like so many of us, when an issue doesn’t directly effect him, he sees no need to participate in the change that is needed.

People moan and complain about high gas prices, but they will still pay them if they are able to. Herein lies the problem: Those who wish to make a difference tend to not have the resources to do so. Those with the resources ($$$) to make that difference are either selfish, just don’t care, or are profiting from the status quo. People can buy more efficient cars, use a bike, or public transportation; but if they are not forced to do so they simply won’t. It’s the old NIMBY line. People want change and progress, but not at the expense of their personal time and investment (not in my backyard). Obviously, this socially ingrained mindset leads to endless stagnation. In order for the problem to be fixed, it takes a collective effort (social movement) to get anything done. We all know what must be done; we just refuse to do it…it’s the American way.

Listening to: Chronic Future – Time and Time Again

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